, Port Arthur, Texas


December 3, 2013

West golf notepad: Big hitters not necessarily big winners on PGA Tour

PORT ARTHUR — One of Chris Stroud’s concerns coming off his most successful season on the PGA Tour was swing speed and it’s natural companion — driving distance. Chris felt he needed to find a way to increase both, if he were to continue to continue moving up in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Lamar golf coach Brian White, who is Stroud’s go-to-guy on his swing, wasn’t in total agreement. White agreed that it would benefit Stroud to be longer off the tee, but he was wary of attempts to increase swing speed. He felt that simply getting the former LU All-America out of some bad habits and putting his swing back on the plane it used to be would make him more confident and lead to more distance.

Listening to their thoughts sent me in search of stats that would put swing speed, driving distance and tour success in some perspective. What I found is pretty much what I thought I’d find — that launching long tee shots has obvious benefits but is hardly necessary to rank among the world’s best players.

First of all, some swing speed numbers. Care to take a guess whose measured swing speed is the fastest on the PGA Tour. If you said, Tiger Woods you are living in the past. If you said Bubba Watson, you’re close. If you said Charlie Beljan, I have to think you looked it up. But go to the head of the class anyway.

Beljan, with an average swing speed of 124.30 and a fastest swing of 130.12, is No. 1. Rounding out the top 5 were Luke List (123.49), Watson (122.62), Gary Woodland (122.45) and Dustin Johnson (122.22). Stroud, meanwhile, was 152nd (109.97), one spot behind Matt Kuchar (110.10), who is No. 7 in the world rankings.

As far as swing speed computed to driving distance, List was No. 1 with an average measured tee shot of 306.3 yards Johnson (305.8) was No. 2, followed by Nicholas Colsaerts (305.7), Woodland (303.8) and Watson (303.7). Beljan, despite being No. 1 in swing speed, was No. 32 in driving distance (295.4). Stroud was No. 164 at 277.0.

Woods, by the way, was only No. 19 in swing speed (119.26) and No. 49 in driving distance (293.2). Phil Mickelson was No. 56 in swing speed (116.04) and No. 93 off the tee (287.9). Stroud’s Lamar University teammate, Shawn Stefani, showed up at No. 50 on swing speed (116.46) and 25th off the tee (297.2).

Where all the numbers get really interesting, meanwhile, is when you bring the most important figure — money winnings into play. Woods was a clear cut No. 1 with over $8 million, despite good but not eye-opening swing speed and length. Henrik Stenson, No. 2 in money, was No. 65 in driving distance. Kuchar, who remember was barely above Stroud in swing speed, finished No. 3 on the money list.

The rest of the top 10 money winners in relation to length off the tee were as follows: Mickelson (No. 4 in money, No. 93 in driving); Brandt Snedeker (No. 5, No. 137); Adam Scott (No. 6, No. 23); Steve Stricker (No. 7, No. 124); Justin Rose (No. 8, No. 27); Zach Johnson (No. 9, No. 153); and Jordan Spieth (No. 10, No. 80).

It’s quite revealing that of the top 10 money winners, only Scott and Rose were in the top 30 off the tee, and Woods was the only other player in the top 50. Four of the top 10 — Kuchar, Stricker, Snedeker and Zach Johnson ranked from 116 to 153 in driving distance.

The bottom line, to no great surprise, is that it’s not only possible but quite common to be among the game’s greats without crushing tee shots out of sight. Drive for show and  putt for dough may be an oversimplification, but it’s not too far off. As Stroud proved throughout the 2013 season, when you add great chipping to good putting, you can beat a lot of bombers.

CHIP SHOTS: Harry Green of Nederland continues to have a knack for aces. Green got his 7th hole- in-one last Friday at Babe Zaharias, sinking his tee shot from 132 yards on the 12th hole. His club of choice was an 8-iron. The shot was witnessed by Bill Hammond and Cody Almond . . . Twyman Ash and Norm Shannon tied for first in the Monday Seniors at Belle Oaks, finishing at plus 1. Ralph Childress was third at 0. Dennis Neef was the closest to the pin winner on No. 15 . . . The Super Saturday Game at The Babe was played in a best -ball format. The front nine was won at plus 5 by the team of Tony Trevino, Wes McDonald, Glen Marino and Paul Brown. There was a tie for second at minus 1 between the team of Paul Flores, Harry Green, Roger Koch and Pete Reobroi and the foursome of Ted Freeman, Cody Almand, Mark Petry and Harold Wilkinson. The Trevino team also won the back nine at minus 7. Second at minus 1 was the Freeman team . . . The Senior 50 Plus Game at Babe Zaharias was played in a 2-ball format. The front was won at minus 3 by the team or Richard Briggs, Larry Voight, Paul Duplantis and Jack Wilson. On the back, there was a four-way tie at minus 1 between the team of Larry Thompson, Butch Pitman, Gene Hardy and Malcolm Tiller, the foursome  of Adam Noel, Don MacNeal, Ron Theriot and Casey Begeman, the team of Benny Sharpe, Ed Hetzel, Billy Thillet and Larry Rogers and the foursome of Cole Lee, Cap Hollier, John House and Charlie Huckaby.

    Golf news should be e-mailed to or faxed to 724-6854.




Text Only
  • Nederland 13U Babe Ruth loses 9-0

    The Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team lost 9-0 Friday to Bryant.

    July 25, 2014

  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

  • MC Babe Ruth goes 2-0

    First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.

    July 19, 2014

  • Up the odds for solid bank fishing

    There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.

    July 19, 2014

  • Derek Williams, Summer Money League light up the lanes at Max Bowl

    Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.

    July 19, 2014

  • West column: Pacers hiring Pat Knight didn't help Lamar

    July 19, 2014

  • Babe Ruth.jpg Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional

    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

From the Fieldhouse blog